A wine lover’s weekend spent ‘Sideways’ in the Santa Ynez Valley

Image of Syrah vineyard on Foxen Canyon RoadA vineyard of syrah grapes located along Foxen Canyon Road.

Twenty years on, ‘the Sideways effect’ continues in the Santa Ynez Valley. The film, directed by Alexander Payne, follows the misadventures of two middle-aged friends on a bachelor weekend road trip through Santa Barbara’s Sta Rita Hills, visiting some of the area’s most celebrated vineyards and restaurant staples.

The protagonist, Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, is a struggling writer and amateur wine enthusiast. An ardent supporter of the cool climate Pinot Noir produced in the Sta Rita Hills, he takes his best friend, washed-up actor Jack Cole, to experience the region’s wines just before Jack’s wedding.

Along the way, Miles notoriously professes an ironic hatred for Merlot while putting Santa Barbara Pinot Noir on a pedestal, only to later drink the wine he’s been saving for the right moment, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc from a paper cup. The special wine is, of course, a Merlot blend.

Miles’s declaration seems to have famously influenced wine market trends for drinkers everywhere. A closer look at the film reveals a few subtly embedded wines that are worth seeking out on a Santa Ynez Valley tasting tour.

Santa Barbara locals agree that despite their often cringeworthy behaviour, the humorous duo gives a genuine look into a wine region still not overexposed by corporate marketing teams or Instagram influencers while yet honouring its innate authenticity.

Like Santa Barbara’s local Pinot Noir, the Sideways film aged beautifully, and its wine trail remains a wonderful choice for a weekend visit.

At the Hitching Post II, Frank Ostini serves Santa Maria-style BBQ steaks. Credit: Jeremy Ball



There are hundreds of accommodation options to choose from in the Santa Ynez Valley, but the Sideways Inn from the movie will please film buffs and wine enthusiasts alike. Start your Sideways weekend by checking into the hotel in Buellton.

While certainly not the most luxurious option in the area, the inn remains affordable and wonderfully nostalgic for fans of the movie. Travellers need not worry; the inn has been completely renovated since the film, and it’s perfectly comfortable for a night (or two) after tasting in the area.

*Be sure to take advantage of the included breakfast delivery programme. Order by 6pm to receive the next morning.

Fans of the film and those looking for a local bottle selection to pair with dinner will appreciate the Sideways Inn’s proximity to the Hitching Post II restaurant, situated just off the highway and about a 15-minute walk from the inn.

In addition to claiming the ‘world’s best BBQ steaks’, this casual dining room has remained almost unchanged since the film’s debut. Despite the dated interior, you can expect to find Santa Maria-style BBQ grilled to perfection over an open fire and, of course, delicious Pinot Noir.

The restaurant’s owner, chef and winemaker, Frank Ostini, grew up in the wine business and has been both cooking and making wines in Santa Barbara County since 1979.

Look out for bottlings from his favourite vineyards – Sanford & Benedict and Fiddlestix – blended into the Hitching Post’s ‘Perfect Set’ cuvée. Ostini notes: ‘We like ’em at least five years old, but all our wines are balanced. It’s really all about balance for ageworthy wines.’ Notable vintages to try are the 2016 and 2017.

Foxen Canyon Road, a narrow country road, runs through the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country. Credit: George Rose / Getty Images News



Take breakfast at the hotel, or stop at a local coffee shop before heading out to enjoy a morning of winery visits on Foxen Canyon Road.

Located in the heart of the Sta Rita Hills, this picturesque stretch provided the backdrop for most of the film’s iconic vineyard scenes. Be sure to pace yourself, or better yet, book a driver to fully experience the region’s bounty.

First stop; Firestone Vineyard tasting room,…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/a-wine-lovers-weekend-spent-sideways-in-the-santa-ynez-valley-524633/